The Locker Room

April 23, 2007

The statist impulse

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:01 PM

None of us should be surprised that U.S. News follows the lead of other media outlets this week in using the Virginia Tech shooting as an excuse to trot out gun control arguments.

Will Sullivan's article conveys disappointment because "experts are skeptical that gun control is primed for a reversal of its dismal fortunes."

But the following passage is the one that sent me to the keyboard:

Even the horrors of Colorado's Columbine High School shootings, in which two students killed 12 classmates and a teacher before committing suicide, failed to generate changes in federal policy, though Coloradans did pass a measure requiring background checks at gun shows.

Why would anyone assume that the Columbine case (or the Blacksburg case, for that matter) should prompt a change in federal law? Why is the absence of a federal power grab a "failure"? Law enforcement is a local and state government responsibility, and we should be wary any time we consider the possibility of new law enforcement regulations coming from Washington. 

While I'm at it, another piece of the coverage caused me to grimace. Alex Kingsbury uses the 1966 Austin, Texas, campus tower shooting to make the following observation:

Since Texas there have been scores of such horrifying incidents at colleges and other schools.

Scores? Really? That means at least 40 similar incidents in the past 40 years. Good luck trying to find them. The chart that accompanies Kingsbury's story lists 14 other incidents. Other than the Austin and Blacksburg cases, not one listed incident had half as many killings. Three of the 14 incidents were Vietnam-era events in which law enforcement officers killed campus protesters; I would treat those deaths as qualitatively different from the campus violence exemplified in Austin and Blacksburg.

Last week's event raises legitimate safety questions. Hype only muddies the picture. 

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Goodbye, Boris Yeltsin

Posted by Jon Ham at 8:54 PM

He began as a charismatic young politician who became president of the Russian Federation, and made a heroic and historic stand on top of a tank in front of the Russian White House in defiance of a coup of hard-line communists. (Interestingly, The New York Times refers to this as a "right-wing coup." One wonders who the left-wingers were if hard-line commies were the rightwingers.) Let's hope he's remembered for that rather than the ill-advised dance he did at a later campaign stop.

All of that is captured in this Russian TV report. It's not transalated, but it doesn't need to be.

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'My [old] Generation'

Posted by Jon Ham at 3:53 PM

I'm glad they recorded this quickly. The lead singer is 90. But it looks like they had fun, even breaking some guitars at the end. (Mild content warning at the end, in case a certain gesture gets you upset. But it's nothing you won't see on the beltline every day.)

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Jane Norwood goes to Washington

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:07 PM

Jane Norwood is the vice-chair of the NC State Board of Education. Although her term on the board officially expired last month, she went to Washington to testify for the full House Education Committee on behalf of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

The topic was No Child Left Behind, and Dr. Norwood, a professor of education at Appalachian State University, thought it was a good opportunity to tout the state's high school reform efforts (think Learn and Earn), as well as the state's "greater accountability with more accurate data" like the four-year graduation rate.

Of course, with all of this talk about high schools, Norwood and the State Board appears to have forgotten about the sorry state of North Carolina's middle schools.

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Big bad Wal-Mart

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:50 PM

Economist Richard Vedder debunked some myths involving Wal-Mart during his discussion today with the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. 

Among the more interesting complaints about the big box giant is its ability to kill business for "Mom & Pop" stores (video clip):

Wal-Mart hurts competitors and communities. Competitors are devastated when Wal-Mart comes to town -- the small "Mom & Pop" stores that are so important to small communities. The businessmen who run these stores are the rock of the community. They're the center of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, etc., etc. And these stores are being devastated by Wal-Mart.

Well, I've got news for you folks: a lot of those stores were being devastated before Wal-Mart came in -- when the malls came in 20, 30, 40 years ago. Downtowns were dying long before Wal-Mart. And so maybe Wal-Mart has furthered that trend.

Well, this is "creative destruction," as Joseph Schumpeter called it. There are some losers when Wal-Mart comes in. There's no doubt about it. And some of the people who are losers are nice people. But you know it isn't Wal-Mart that's putting those people out of business. It's consumers who are. It's the people (who) are. Maybe we should shoot the population who goes to Wal-Mart. 

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Re: Name That Party

Posted by Jon Ham at 12:26 AM

Jon, I emailed Sue Wilson, AP's Raleigh bureau chief, the following:

Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation blogged today on the lack of party identification in the Phipps story. Here’s the link to his blog post:

This is one of the biggest complaints media critics on the conservative side have about the mainstream media: that they air brush Democrat from corruption stories and play it up when Republicans are involved. I was wondering what AP’s policy is in this case.

Here is her response:

It was a mistake. We should have included it. It will be added to today's stories and those run in the future.


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Raleigh Convention Center, free for all

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 11:26 AM

The Raleigh city council voted (5 to 3) to provide $350,000 of hotel, motel, food tax money annually to pay people to use the facility, otherwise known as "incentives."  In other words, we pay for the facility, we pay for the hotel and now we pay people to use the facility.  The "Great Space Race" has escalated to the point that there is so much space available that cities must pay people to use it. 

Oh, I forgot, only the out-of-town visitors pay the tax. 

(The County Commissioners vote on this one was 5 - 1, with Coble as the lone dissenter.)

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I did not leave the Lutheran Church, it left me

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 10:22 AM

To paraphrase Reagan's comment about the Democratic Party, I did not leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), it left me.  This article is about an ELCA campus minister's prayer at the Virginia Tech convocation.  The article includes the entire prayer and you have read it to believe it.  It is a politically correct, I don't want to offend anyone, and so I will not mention Jesus, prayer. I have since joined the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod which has pastors who are not afraid to preach the Gospel.

But, Mr. King decided to do something apparently more important in his mind. He decided to be politically correct and not offend the members of his interfaith community by offering hollow words of humanistic philosophy lacking any real substance, and by appealing to various “religious streams” and by validating the search “for a way forward,” he insulted those of us who actually believe Christianity is true and other religions false.

In so doing, he denied his faith. He offered those mourning no hope for the present nor any hope for the future. He left the hearers dead in their sins.

A minister ashamed of the Gospel should not have been on that podium.


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That was quick

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:04 AM

On April 5, I asked why the N&O did not have a blog on state politics to go with Under the Dome. Yesterday came the announcement of the Dome blog. They started posting last Monday.

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It's time to play Name That Party!™

Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:52 AM

The Associated Press is reporting on Meg Scott Phipps' release from federal prison today. The story makes several omissions, however. Let's fill in the blanks by playing ... Name That Party!

Here's the article:

RALEIGH -- The upcoming release of Meg Scott Phipps from a federal penitentiary in West Virginia after more than three years in prison largely will end a humbling chapter in North Carolina political history.


a. a Republican
b. a Whig
c. a Green Party member
d. a Democrat

pleaded guilty in 2003 to extorting illegal campaign contributions from carnival vendors seeking to influence the awarding of contracts at North Carolina state fairs when she was elected agriculture commissioner. ...

Today, these federal probes almost are common with the guilty pleas of former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance

a. a Republican
b. an Independent
c. a Reform Party member
d. a Democrat

and most recently, former House Speaker Jim Black. Black

a. a Republican
b. a Libertarian
c. a Communist
d. a Democrat

and two other associates

a. Republicans
b. Anarchists
c. Socialists
d. Democrats

await sentencing in the next months in a probe that has included acknowledgments of bribery, cash payments in bathrooms and hiding work for lottery vendors.

HT: Susan "the Source."

Linkable Entry

City schools

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:37 AM

The Council of the Great City Schools released their Beating the Odds report this month. Charlotte-Mecklenburg was the only school system from North Carolina to be included in the study.

While the report is optimistic about the reading and math gains made by the city schools, the report notes that city schools, including CMS, still fall below state averages on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests.

The report gives George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush a lot of credit for the improvement, but still manages to take some potshots at No Child Left Behind. It never mentions that guy who served as president in between them.

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Price of Nu-Grape could increase sharply

Posted by Hal Young at 07:52 AM

... if Sen. Doug Berger's bill successfully imposes a 10-cent deposit on soft drink bottles, cans, jugs, sacks, wineskins, and so forth. Can't wait to see the financial note on this one, with its requirement for state-certified redemption centers operating within designated "convenience zones", requirements for signage and labeling on stores and vending machines, deposit payments flowing back and forth between retailers, distributors, and the state, and other impedimenta.

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